With New England’s tight ends failing to contribute much in either the passing or run-blocking game, Benjamin Watson’s return from suspension is timely.
Help is on the way for the New England Patriots offense.
Benjamin Watson, presumably fresh and well-rested after serving a four-week suspension for failing a drug test last March, returns to the fold this week against the lowly Washington Redskins. His addition to the squad could prove beneficial for a number of reasons.
First of all, he’s a veteran presence who spent the first seven years of his career playing under Bill Belichick and alongside Tom Brady. That kind of experience doesn’t just grow on trees, so it’s likely that he’ll immediately become integrated into Josh McDaniels’ offensive plans right from the get-go. McDaniels noted Watson’s speed, experience, versatility, and intelligence during a conference call with reporters earlier this week, via ProFootballTalk’s Josh Alper.
Secondly, he should help open up the Patriots’ passing attack. New England hasn’t gotten much from incumbent tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse this year in that department – the two players have combined to log just four receptions on five targets for 77 yards and no touchdowns during the opening quarter of the regular season. Those paltry figures would probably disgust Rob Gronkowski, no doubt, so Watson’s return immediately elevates the Patriots pass-catchers and makes them more potent weapons on the field for Brady.
Thirdly – and arguably most importantly – Watson has a chance to immediately make an impact on this offense against the Redskins. As CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley notes, Washington has allowed the seventh-most receptions this season to tight ends, so McDaniels has a great opportunity in facing this week’s opponent to try and get Watson quickly acclimated and making his presence felt.
That could be key to figuring how much of a role he carves out on this team in his 16th NFL season. At 38 years old, Watson clearly isn’t going to be the fastest, strongest, or most explosive player on the New England offense.
And yet, all of those traits McDaniels highlighted earlier – his experience and intelligence, in particular – could prove highly advantageous to a New England team still trying to find itself on offense after the failed Antonio Brown experiment.